Simpson-Miller calls for reform of global economic governance structure

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has asked the international community not to forget the middle-income states when it comes to aid for development and the fight against disease.

“We urge that middle income countries not be pushed to the margins of the development agenda, nor be put on the fringe of the development assistance provided by the international community,” she told world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on 27th September 2012.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

“We dare not forget that a significant proportion of the world’s poorest citizens live in Middle Income Countries,” she added. “This is a diverse group which includes large developing economies and Small Island Developing States, such as those in the Caribbean.”

Prime Minister Simpson-Miller noted that several of the countries are highly indebted and extremely vulnerable to external shocks and natural disasters, face significant obstacles in efforts to spur economic recovery and growth, and are hampered by the volatility of energy and food prices, decreases in export commodity prices, and weak capital inflows.

“Increasing food prices cause untold hardships for many of our people, particularly the most vulnerable in our societies,” she said. “Small countries need greater support to build resilience to economic and environmental shocks. I come to you today from such a nation.”

Prime Minister Simpson-Miller described Jamaica as “a nation – small in size but enormous in spirit.”

It is “a nation with a people whose speed defies the laws of physics, whose musical messages have inspired positive and revolutionary global change and whose minds have provided the world with myriad solutions in areas including science, law and medicine. Yet, many nations like Jamaica have such great possibility and potential that are not reflected in, or reflective of, its present economic indicators.”

The Jamaican leader called for reforms in global economic governance, including the international financial institutions, to take into account the need for special and differential treatment for small and vulnerable economies.

She said women and children are a particularly vulnerable group, with children, especially girls, used as pawns for economic gain, including through human trafficking and other exploitative actions.

“Many vulnerable young women are deceived and lured away by attractive offers to get them and their families out of poverty. They then find themselves in a strange land, with no support, no identity and no hope of returning home; sold into modern day slavery, their very bodies used as a currency of exchange,” she stated, calling on the international community to take bold actions to address the scourge.

Prime Minister Simpson-Miller welcomed the considerable investment that the UN and the international community have made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, allowing developing countries, including Jamaica, to make a difference in the lives of those affected.

She however pointed out that inadequate human and financial resources still beset efforts to scale-up testing and treatment, and implement programmes to increase awareness and reduce the risk of new infections.